, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 1563-1592
Date: 01 Apr 2012

Grades as incentives

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Abstract

This paper examines how grade incentives affect student learning across a variety of courses at two universities, using for identification the discrete rewards offered by the standard A–F letter-grade system. We develop and test five predictions about the provision of study effort and the distribution of numerical course averages in the presence of the thresholds that separate these discrete rewards. Surprisingly, all are rejected in our data. There is no evidence that exam performance is improved for those students that stand to gain the most from additional study.